By: Julie Sakamoto
There was always an expectation that healthcare would be one of the biggest issues concerning American voters, but it is especially the case in this year’s presidential election, due to a surprise plot twist: the coronavirus. The Pew Research Center reported that healthcare is the second to top voting issue, concerning nearly 7 out of 10 registered voters and topping issues like climate change and economic inequality. With COVID-19 making healthcare a top-tier issue in voters’ minds, it sparked fireworks during the debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden.
The pandemic has highlighted issues with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a federal statute enacted by Congress and commonly known as Obamacare. The ACA has four goals in mind: (1) to make affordable health insurance available to all, (2) provide consumers with premium tax credits to lower costs for households within 100- 400% below federal poverty line, (3) expand Medicaid to cover individuals below 138% of the federal poverty level, and (4) support innovative medical delivery. However, the third goal only applies to states that have Medicaid implemented within their system. Medicaid is a similar program to Obamacare, but instead, it includes other benefits not covered such as nursing homes and personal care services.
Beyond the pandemic, the candidates are trying to convince the American public that they are better suited to address the health policy issues, Affordable Care Act, protections for people with pre-existing conditions, drug pricing, reproductive rights, and Medicaid issues for the upcoming Presidential Election.
The two candidates offer starkly different visions on what the government should do to ensure that Americans have access to affordable medical care. They have outlined different strategies in prescription drug prices and oppose each other’s approaches to women’s reproductive rights. It’s no secret that Trump governs and campaigns more through his 280 character tweets rather than his 10-point plans. Trump is prescribing the wrong medication to heal the wounds set by the novel pandemic. Biden, you are our only hope.
As of mid-August, the US accounted for 4% of the world’s population but 25% of all COVID-19 cases and 22% of deaths. Trump has, on many occasions, downplayed and mocked the severity of the pandemic. According to the New York Times, he jokingly called the coronavirus the “Kung Flu,” sent mixed signals on the effectiveness of masks, and wrongly suggested that cases were increasing due to more testing. He has delegated primary responsibility for responding to the pandemic to the states, pulled out of the World Health Organization (WHO), and reopened public in-person forums despite the coronavirus protocols enticed by health experts. However, he has signed several major pieces of legislation on pandemic response and economic relief.
On the other hand, Biden pledges to put “scientists and public health leaders front and center” in communication with the US public and to give the federal government primary responsibility for pandemic response. He also supports expanded testing, eliminating out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatment, additional pay and protective equipment for essential workers, reopening schools in-person only after sufficient reductions in community transmission, and reversing the decision to withdraw from the WHO, per BBC News.
Winner: Biden. Being in the middle of a horrifying pandemic leaving millions homeless and countless dead, we cannot stand idly by and turn the other cheek against Trump’s mocking, and racially insensitive tweets. This pandemic is not a joke. A wave of wage stagnation and budget cuts has left millions on the street unemployed, at a high risk to contract the virus, struggling to put food on the table and even worse, for the dead. This number could have been avoided but instead, Trump’s motive to break away from the WHO stemmed from the country’s economy and funding allocations. The reopening of schools, also partially due to economic reasons, has put both teachers and students’ lives on the tightrope, balancing good education on one hand and safety on the other. Safety and care are supposed to be at the forefront all the time in education. So if virtual education is the way to protect everyone during the pandemic, that is what we should be doing. Trump, please do better.
ACA and Medicaid
Trump has supported Congressional proposals to repeal the ACA with weakened protections for preexisting conditions, reduced premium assistance, elimination of the Medicaid expansion, and to cap federal funding for Medicaid. He supports a lawsuit currently under trial at the Supreme Court to overturn the ACA in its entirety, and chooses to expand the availability of short-term insurance plans that have lower premiums. In addition, he ended cost-sharing subsidy payments to insurers, suggesting they would cause the ACA to be “dead” and “gone.” He also signed legislation to repeal the individual mandate penalty.
In stark contrast, seen on Joe Biden’s candidacy website, Biden proposes to build on the ACA by increasing premium assistance and creating a Medicare-like public option plan, which would be available to anyone and automatically cover people with low incomes in states that have not expanded Medicaid. He would also lower the age of eligibility for Medicare to 60 years, and support increased federal funding to states for Medicaid during the economic crisis
Winner: Trump. Biden unveiled his government-run, single-payer healthcare system proposal and I don’t know about you, but I do not want my healthcare to be ruled on popularity or mob rule. We can see for ourselves what happens when the government runs the healthcare industry. Medicare is bloated and financially unsustainable. According to U.S News, other Western-developed nations around the world such as Canada come to the U.S for the most up-to-date treatments. In the UK, CNN reported that individuals deemed obese are denied care. The justification was predicated on the fact that it costs too much for the country to pay for surgeries that won’t improve the quality of life enough to justify the cost, in the eyes of the government.
We can see for ourselves where socialized healthcare leads too. In Cuba, bureaucrats have one healthcare system and the citizens get another. Guess which system is better? The people get the system where the medical tools are rusty and you have to bring your own light bulbs to the hospital. At one OB-Gyn hospital, the dispatch reported to the McClatchy Company that the staff “used a primitive manual vacuum to aspirate” the womb of a Cuban woman who had a miscarriage “without any anesthesia or pain medicine. She was offered no . . . follow up appointments.” The elites take private jets to foreign countries and get treated like royalty. In Venezuela, people die waiting just for basic antibiotics.
American hospitals are overflowing with the desperately ill. It’s possible that many people who needed immediate healthcare will be turned away and left to die. It is a terrifying prospect to think about. So does this seem like the right time to open our entire healthcare to everyone, including the rest of the world, for free?
Immigration and Health Care
Trump took a variety of steps to restrict immigration in America, including phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, building a wall along the US–Mexico border, ending chain migration, and eliminating the visa lottery program. In addition, he expanded public charge rules restricting lawful entry of people likely to receive certain non-cash public benefits such as Medicaid or other programs. He also issued a proclamation allowing new immigrants to be denied entry without proof of health insurance or ability to pay for medical costs.
Biden proposes to reverse Trump administration actions on DACA, the border wall, public charge rules, and separation of parents and children at the border. He supports a roadmap to citizenship for certain unauthorized immigrants. In addition, he would remove the five-year waiting period for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program for lawfully present immigrants. He would also permit unauthorized immigrants to buy coverage in the ACA marketplace, but would not make them eligible for subsidies.
Winner: Tie. Both Biden and Trump have outlined important policies that we must take into inspection. Due to the unexpectedness of COVID-19, Trump needed to take drastic measures to ensure the sufficiency of American people. Anyone who thinks this is the last global pandemic we will face lacks sufficient imagination. There’s no question this will happen again. So as we suffer through this virus, we should learn something useful for the next time. Going forward, we must be certain to have enough medicine, tests, hospital beds (in the very least) in case something awful happens unexpectedly. Trust me, it will.
First, we need to address that borders matter! Immigration isn’t some political issue that only activists care about. The question about who lives in our country is the most basic issue that any nation faces. Immediately after the virus began to spread globally, countries started to secure their borders. For example, Israel wanted to know exactly who is coming in and out of their borders, and they wanted to control it. Migrant controls were swift and highly aggressive, since they did not want a single person who was potentially infected to cross into their borders.
Biden goes on to demand that we change the Trump Administration’s so-called “public charge rule,” which would in hand allow more penniless immigrants to move into this country. Keep in mind that this is all at taxpayer expense, and they will use our already dangerously overburdened healthcare system in the middle of a terrible epidemic. How does that help? It doesn’t – it hurts.
Tally: Trump 2, Biden 2.
Both candidates have consistently proven and disproven their capabilities in handing a country during the middle of an unexpected wipeout. If you have gotten this far into this article, one message that must resonate with all of us is this: we cannot have the mentality that all bad things emanate from America. Our leaders need to treat us as how we would treat our own children. If there’s a threat to your kids, you don’t pause to think of an excuse or pretend it is not happening. You act. You do everything that is necessary to protect them. If you’re forced to choose between your own children and the kids next door, you understand that’s not really a choice. You have only one duty: to protect the lives in your care, your people, and the ones who depend on you. In the end that’s what it means to lead a family. It means no less to lead a country.
This is not the right time to open our borders to the mass public, nor our healthcare system. What would happen to sick people in America if we did that? When Joe Biden released his first plan for coronavirus, his first bullet point proclaims that “Acts of racism and xenophobia against the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community must not be tolerated”, per FoxNews. Is racism against the Asian American Community really our country’s most urgent problem? No, it is not even in the top 500 problems. You’re not going to see angry mob lynching people in the streets because of coronavirus. We are not that kind of country. Put America first.